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Ice Equipment Sales & Leasing | Phone: (800) 999-5616

Icesurance Blog - Ice Equipment Sales & Leasing | Phone: (800) 999-5616

How To Choose The Right Ice Maker For Your Restaurant

When you are looking for the right ice maker for your restaurant, you have a lot of questions that you need to answer. How much ice will I need to run my business? What type of machine should I get? The answers to all of these questions will help you to narrow down your search and give you the focus you need to find the machine that is perfect for your business.

Type of Ice Makers

Flaked ice is made up of small bits of ice and is extremely versatile. You can use flaked ice to keep food cold when served, as ice and garnish for drinks, and as part of a buffet display. Cubed ice is popular in drinks of all kinds and can come in a variety of sizes. Ice nuggets are randomly sized pieces of ice that are popular in drinks and as part of smaller salad bars.

You can purchase machines that make all three kinds of ice if your daily volume is low, but you should consider separate machines if you run a larger establishment. Larger commercial ice makers usually specialize in one type of ice, which means you will need at least three machines to satisfy your ice requirements.

Cooling Systems

Smaller ice makers can be either air or water-cooled, depending on their design. Air-cooled machines are less expensive to buy and run, but they require a great deal of space to prevent overheating. Water-cooled systems are convenient because they use water as a coolant and do not need a lot of extra space to operate, but they can be much more expensive to buy. If you are cramped for space, then water-cooled is your answer. If you have the room, then you can save some money with air-cooled units.

Considerations for Installing Ice Makers

In a restaurant, an ice maker is an kitchen appliance that is just as important as the walk-in cooler. The right ice maker might require some remodeling before it can be properly installed into a kitchen area. Some of the most important considerations that need to be made for deciding where to put an ice maker include:

  • Drainage and plumbing needs
  • Space for venting
  • The ability to properly clean the ice maker each day
  • Energy efficiency
  • Proper access for kitchen staff
  • Ability to easily perform routine maintenance

An ice maker that is not given the right space to work in can do more harm than good. It is important to analyze your kitchen and make sure that you have a spot that is ideally suited to support your ice makers and allow your business to grow.

To a restaurant, a good ice maker is the difference between success and failure. As you prepare to buy and install the ice makers you will need for your business, you need to take into account all of the operational and maintenance functions you will need to perform to keep your machines operating properly. In order to make a smart investment in ice machines for your restaurant, you need to do you homework and know what you are looking for.

To find out which ice maker works best for your restaurant please contact us at Icesurance. Leasing and financing options are available.

Does Your Ice Machine Warranty Provide Enough Protection?

Many of the manufacturers of commercial ice machines offer excellent warranties.  As a matter of fact, the industry standard is three years on parts and labor, and five years on the compressor and evaporator.  While this coverage provides plenty of protection for the ice machine owner, it is not the be-all end-all instrument that many purchasers expect and assume that they have.  That’s because there are many situations that may cause a commercial ice machine to stop working properly, but are not covered by the warranty.  A manufacturer can only warrant what it has control over.  This can usually be described as a responsibility to repair or replace defective components or correct errors in manufacturing.

So, what’s not covered?

The truth is that a material percentage of the expense of servicing commercial ice machines is not warrantied, and that means the owner could very well be getting a bill for service, even though the warranty period has not expired.

I divide the non-covered service into two categories:

  1. Time & Travel
  2. Fault of Others

The Time & Travel heading would represent what is not covered by the factory in terms of travel time to a job, diagnostic time, overtime, weekend and holidays, and freight on replacement parts.  While this varies from brand to brand, any coverage of these expenses would be at a bare minimum if at all.  The fact is, that the owner of a machine that has an in-warranty compressor failure could incur a bill for hundreds of dollars based on shipping costs of the 75lb. compressor, travel time beyond the allowable (usually ½ hour is covered) overtime or holiday-weekend rates, and any hours of labor that exceed the manufacturer’s maximum allowable hours per component.

The Fault of Others category reflects any external issue that may cause an equipment malfunction of which the manufacturer has no control.  The most common culprits include interruption of utility supply, clogged drains, water filters, dirty condensers, scale or slime build-up, etc.  Any service required due to any of these issues is not covered by any of the commercial ice machine manufacturers, and the cost of remediating any of these common situations will be the financial responsibility of the equipment owner no matter how new the ice machine may be.

One way to avoid the headache of unforeseen service expenses is to lease your ice machine from Icesurance.  At Icesurance, our leasing customers receive the best service possible, and we back up that claim with guaranteed ice.

The Difference Between the Acceptable Range of Operating Conditions with the Actual Ability to Produce Ice

The cost of hot air.  In the last blog, we spoke about some of the operating issues that impair the ability of self-contained air cooled commercial ice machines to function properly.

All of these were related to air flow and ventilation.  So, on a related topic, I would like to address some of the other misconceptions regarding self- contained air cooled commercial ice machines.

First of all, most manufacturers provide production data that calculates lbs. of production within the following parameters: 50F-70F water temperature and 70F-90F air temperature.  This would be great information if the real world existed within the same temperature ranges, however it does not.

For example, the Kold-Draft GB1064AC series ice maker specifications show that as the water/air temperatures increase from 50/70 to 70/90, there will be a compensating reduction in output from 906 lbs. per day to 725 lbs. per day, a loss of 181 lbs per day, or 20%.  One may make the assumption that the declining production trend will maintain the same trajectory as the air or water temperatures increase, but that would be a mistake as the production drop will accelerate once past the 90/70 barrier.

It is important not to confuse the acceptable range of operating conditions with actual ability to produce ice.  After all, a commercial ice machine producing less than half its optimum production because it is in an environment with 110F air temperature is still by definition, “operating”.  The onus of replacing this amount of lost ice will fall on the restaurant in the purchase of extra ice or an additional machine, relocating the equipment, or upgrading the existing HVAC system, all of which comes not without spending a considerable sum of money.

So, if you have a situation where an ice machine will not work properly, it might be worthwhile to check into the alternatives of remote air-cooled or water cooled equipment.  At Icesurance, we will always help you select the most appropriate equipment for your business.

Ice-O-Matic Nugget Ice Machines are in High Demand this Summer

ice-o-matic- flake ice machine, nugget ice machine, pellet ice machineAs mentioned in a prior post, Kold-Draft commercial ice machines, producers of the classic square cube, have enjoyed a great resurgence in popularity due to the efforts of mixologists who have successfully raised the role of ice from a simple source of refrigeration to a critical ingredient of a fine cocktail.

It would, however, be a mistake to assume that these innovators of beverage engineering would ever think that one ice form, no matter how perfect it is, would be able to meet the culinary and aesthetic standards of every single drink currently served, or imagined.  That’s the reason we see other ice forms emerging which encompass all types of geometric shapes and some not so geometric as well.

These choices are either homemade, carved out of a block of ice, or supplied by specialty ice distributors, and add a truly unique (and very expensive) aspect in consideration of historical experiences.  There is, however an additional choice that has gained an enthusiastic response, and is produced in an on premise ice machine; nugget ice.

lanikai1-3.jpgIce-O-Matic commercial nugget ice machines, also known as pellet machines, or chewable ice machines produce a compressed nugget, fairly uniform in shape, like a pencil eraser, and creates a spectacular presentation.  Nugget ice is an excellent choice for any beverage that was traditionally made in a blender or with crushed ice.  Aside from an intrinsic attraction to the size and shape of nugget ice, it has an unusual property in that it actually absorbs flavor from the beverage which is a huge compliment to the fact that it chewable.  Ice-O-Matic nugget ice machines are compact, only 22” wide, and is a value added product for any purveyor of fine spirits.

Beware of Purchasing Commercial Ice Machines Online

When it comes to getting your next commercial ice machine, do you really, really want reliable post sale service?  Is quick and competent ice machine service an important factor in the purchasing decision? Of course, nearly everyone will respond affirmatively, after all, who wouldn’t want excellent support for a piece of equipment that is so integral to creating a positive customer experience, especially when one considers the overall temper-mentality of commercial ice machines as a food service equipment segment in general.

Yet the facts just do not support this conclusion.  An ever-increasing number of commercial ice machines are purchased through online websites, where the primary driver is price.  There is nearly no other reason that these sites can even exist, as the business model is based on search engine optimization, not product knowledge, not customer support.

These marketing companies own no service vans, employ no refrigeration mechanics, administer no warranty claims and stock no parts.  Oh, and if they did, it probably wouldn’t matter because they DON’T EVEN ANSWER THE PHONE.  Good luck even trying to find a phone number, which has now become the Where’s Waldo of websites.  That’s because it takes people, real carbon based life forms who earn salaries, to talk to customers.

At Icesurance, we answer the phone, and there are no shopping carts on our website.  That’s because when a customer is going to spend thousands of dollars on a commercial ice machine, we believe that he or she is entitled to knowledgeable assistance to review some options and help select a machine that makes the best sense for their specific application and budget.  And we also believe that the same customer is entitled to talk to somebody who is courteous and competent to orchestrate any required service if and when they have a problem with that machine down the road.

So, in conclusion, I’m not a believer in buying ice machines from an electronic collection of programming code that has no ability or desire to process the demand, the operating conditions, and the urgency of repair.  However, one product that is surely made for internet sales is books.  So if you decide to buy an ice machine that may or may not be the right fit, you might want to buy a refrigeration text book as well.  At least the book won’t break down next year.

Important Considerations When Purchasing Commercial Ice Machines

Commercial ice machines have a unique marketing benefit; their model numbers are often based on production capability that is achieved under ideal conditions that are pretty much non-existent in the field, at least in the summer months when the demand for ice is at its peak.

While nearly all manufacturers of commercial ice machines, unlike Volkswagen, publish true production numbers, the model number of the machine which automatically becomes the de facto industry nomenclature, (for example, “1800 pounder, etc.”) is the jargon in which the machines are traded.  In commercial ice machines that are mechanically sound, there are two main factors that govern the amount of ice produced and these factors are simply water temperature and air temperature.

All of the major commercial ice machine manufacturers show two sets of testing parameters.  The ideal conditions as mentioned above are 70F air temperature and 50F water temperature.  And the less than ideal test conditions are 90F air temperature and 70F water temperature.  You will be greatly surprised to see how much of a difference in ice production actually results from the difference in operating conditions.

For demonstration purposes, let’s take a look at the Scotsman C1848 ice maker, which is referred to as the aforementioned “1800 pounder”.  According to the latest information obtained today 10/13/15, from the Scotsman website, this model, in an air-cooled format, produces a very respectable 1909 lbs. of ice at the 70/50F ambient air/water temperatures in 24 hours.  However, the exact same machine records an incredible drop of 382 lbs. of ice production when the ambient temperatures are increased by only 20 degrees, to the 90/70F level.

So, basically, to get back to that original 1909 lbs. of production at 90/70F, you would have to get an additional machine, a “500 pounder” like the Scotsman C0530, which is rated to produce 380 lbs. of ice per day at 90/70F.  Once you acquire this extra “500 pounder”, you will only be 2 lbs. short of the “1800 pounder’s” 70/50F production.  And this does not even take into consideration that additional real world situations like a dirty condenser or partially clogged water filter will even further impact production in a negative way.

The point of this blog is not to ridicule the manufacturers of commercial ice makers, it is to illustrate the point that the best way to acquire ice making equipment is from a source that can understand and process all the factors that are involved and too often ignored by restaurant supply houses and restaurant operators as well.

Icesurance is a full service ice machine supplier with the experience and knowledge to help you with a very critical equipment decision, you know, so you won’t need to buy that extra 500 pounder.

Common Problems Found in an Unmaintained Ice Machine

A good working ice machine is a necessity for restaurants, bars, hotels, food production facilities, and any business serving a large amount of customers. However, ice machines do occasionally run into maintenance problems and require repairs.

If you find that you are frequently coming across issues that interfere with your ice production, purchasing a higher quality ice machine or leasing an ice machine that comes with a maintenance plan would be options worth considering. The following are a few of the problems that can occur if your machine is not serviced regularly:

  • If the temperature of the water flowing into the ice machine is not cold enough, it will take longer to freeze, throwing off the machine’s freeze cycle and causing a number of problems. This could cause the ice to form differently and not be as clear as it should be.
  • Leaking water can also affect the production of the ice machine. Depending on where the leak is coming from can cause your machine to run into error codes or ice cubes may not form properly.
  • Electrical problems can also cause ice machine to malfunction. This could be due to bad circuitry in the machine or poor connections in the wires leading to the machine.

Many ice machine problems can be avoided by buying the right ice machine for your location. A few of the top brands include Ice-O-Matic, Kold-Draft, and Hoshizaki. All three of these brands are available from ICEsurance, where we take care of and provide our customers with only the best and highest quality ice machines. ICEsurance also offers leasing programs where we cover all maintenance of the ice machine, 7 days a week.  Contact ICEsurance today to find out more about our ice machines available.

4 Reasons to Get an Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

An ice machine can be found in most restaurants and food production facilities. The machines make large quantities of ice very quickly, and for most restaurants, this is all that is required of an ice machine. To ensure the best ice machine, however, all restaurants need to consider Ice-O-Matic machines. Ice-O-Matic makes a variety of ice machines that make ice in different shapes and sizes, but for your everyday needs. The following are some of the benefits of buying an Ice-O-Matic ice machine:

  • Ice-O-Matic offers an option of Nugget ice or crushed ice. This is very popular at some fast food restaurants because it is really easy to chew. For those who prefer eating their ice over enjoying their drink, nugget ice is the way to go.
  • Whether a soda, a mixed drink, or simply a fruity beverage, crushed ice will make it taste watery and unsatisfying in a matter of minutes. Cubed ice, on the other hand, will not melt as quickly as nugget ice, and will not dilute a drink as quickly. Yet it will cool your drink to the perfect temperature in very little time.
  • Ice-O-Matic ice machines are used by the best. Starbucks iced lattes, Costco Cokes, and most sit-down restaurants and bars. This isn’t just because they are inexpensive and efficient, but because they are the best.
  • Have you ever stuck the straw into what you thought was the bottom of the cup only to find that the ice has clumped together, blocking you from reaching the last few sips of your drink? This is a minor annoyance, but why deal with this when you don’t have to?

If you want to learn how to get an Ice-O-Matic ice machine for your restaurant please contact Icesurance today to find out how we can help. Leasing and Financing options are available.

Why the Appearance of Ice Matters

Ice is an important and often underestimated ingredient in a cocktail. However, it is not only the type or cut of ice that is important, but the appearance as well. This may seem like a subtle and superficial aspect of a good drink, but you would be surprised to know how much the appearance of your ice matters. Not simply the cut or the size, but the clarity of the ice can be an indication of its quality. The following are a few of the factors that affect the appearance of your ice.

  • Style. Cubed and nugget ice are the two most common types of ice for drinks, but are popular for different reasons. Nugget ice will cool a drink must faster than an ice cube, but also tends to dilute a drink more quickly. Cubed ice, because it has a higher volume to surface area ratio, will melt more slowly, cooling the drink at a slow, steady pace and not diluting it as quickly as cracked or crushed ice.

    Shaved ice, like the ice found in snow cones, can also be used in drinks, but is more commonly found in slushies or frozen cocktails. Some restaurants and bars use ice balls, a spherical version of an ice cube.
  • Drink choice. One thing to consider when choosing your style of ice is the drink being served. For whiskies, scotches, and other straight liquor, cubed ice is usually preferable. This is a case in which appearance trumps function; not only does cubed ice appear more traditional in a glass of liquor, but it also cools the drink more slowly.

    Some liquors benefit from a small amount of dilution, but the levels of dilution caused by cracked ice would take away from the taste of the drink. Cocktails, on the other hand, in which the drink is best served very cold and dilution is less detrimental to the taste, would be better served by adding crushed ice.
  • Clarity of the ice. Clear ice cubes don’t just look better than cloudy ones – they are often of a higher quality. There are a few factors that contribute to cloudy ice, the two most common being trapped air and impurities in the water. One reason why restaurant ice is so clear is because it is made from water that has been purified and distilled and contains fewer minerals than typical tap water.

    The other reason is because restaurant ice is frozen slowly under pressure, eliminating all air bubbles as it freezes. This means the ice is denser and cleaner, melting more slowly and introducing only fresh, clean water into your drinks.
  • Aesthetics. There is simply something more appealing about a glass of scotch with one or two large ice cubes than a glass with a handful of cracked ice. Perhaps it’s tradition or the influence of the media, or perhaps it’s the way the light reflects in the glass, leaving the drink looking clear and sharp. Whatever the reason, the appearance of ice in a drink undeniably affects the drinker’s experience.

To ensure your restaurant, hotel, bar or nightclub has the best ice to present to your customers and contact Icesurance today.

Why Is Flake Ice a Good Choice for Seafood Presentation?

Flake ice is just one of the many different types of ice used for keeping drinks, produce, and other food items cold. It has become especially popular for keeping fish cool. Whenever you go to a fresh fish market, the fish are laid on a bed of flaked ice. There are several reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that fish stored in flake ice will remain in top condition for up to five days.

fresh seafood displayed on flake ice

Another reason why flake ice is so popular for the preservation of fish is because of its availability. Flake ice is easy to buy or to make yourself, if you choose. While flake ice used to refer to any type of small, irregularly shaped ice, the term is also used interchangeably with “scale ice.” This is the type of ice used most often for cooling fish; flake ice is made commercially by freezing water in large flat pieces and then breaking up that water with a blade. The ice is usually made on large drums, where thin films of water are poured and frozen before being cooled to well below 0 degrees Celsius. The extremely cold temperatures make the ice brittle, which causes it to shatter in to small flat pieces when broken by a blade.

Fresh seafood onice displayThe second reason for the popularity of flake ice is that it is highly portable and packable. Flake ice, because it is stored in small chunks, packs down better than block ice, the most common alternative for cooling fish. More efficient packing makes it easier to load and transport, and the smaller size means that it can be shifted more easily when needed. It can also be loaded and unloaded quickly, and placing the ice under and around fresh fish takes very little time.

Flake ice has a remarkably large cooling capacity, due to the small size of the individual pieces and to the super low temperatures to which it has been cooled. Because the pieces of ice are small and flat, there is a greater amount of surface area exposed to the fish, and thus the ice cools the fish more quickly than the lower surface area of block ice. It also tends to cool more quickly than granular ice or crushed ice, and while its small size causes it to melt quickly, the melted water tends to freeze into a thin skin, slowing the melting and further loss of the ice.

Finally, flake ice can keep seafood cool and fresh for many days. It is most often used on fishing boats, where its quick cooling capacity is ideal for cooling the fish immediately after being caught. Flake ice is most effective in bringing the fish’s temperature down from the warmer ocean temperature to the freezing temperatures needed for storage and transport.

It is also important that flake ice be made from fresh water, especially before being used in stores. For this reason, an ice machine is a popular choice for making smaller quantities of flake ice that can be used at retail locations in private displays. Contact ICEsurance for more information about flake ice machines.